Samourai Wallet Co-Founder Pleads Not Guilty to Laundering Charges, Released on $1M Bond

News | May 16, 2024 By:

On Monday, April 29, 2024, Samourai Wallet co-founder Keonne Rodriguez pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal courtroom to charges related to operating an unlicensed cryptocurrency wallet and money transmission business.

Rodriguez, 35, was arrested last month in Pennsylvania and charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for money laundering and 5 years for operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Prosecutors allege that between 2015 and last month’s seizure of servers, Samourai Wallet facilitated over $100 million in alleged money laundering transactions from illegal dark web markets and around $2 billion total in “unlawful transactions.” Samourai Wallet, whose other co-founder is William Lonergan Hill, touts itself as a privacy-focused bitcoin wallet and mixing service.

On April 29, Manhattan Federal Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses ruled that Rodriguez would be released on a $1 million bond. The bond will be secured by real estate in Pennsylvania owned by Rodriguez’s wife and other family members. Rodriguez is confined to his home, monitored by electronic tracking, and only permitted to leave for court dates.

The criminal charges against Rodriguez and Hill come as the Department of Justice is building its case against Tornado Cash developer Roman Storm. Tornado Cash is a bitcoin mixing service that aims to improve users’ financial privacy by obscuring the origin and destination of transactions on the blockchain.

Some in the cryptocurrency industry argue these cases show the government is attempting to criminalize basic privacy tools for those using Bitcoin and other digital currencies. For its part, the DOJ alleges in its complaint that Samourai Wallet “encouraged and openly invited users to launder criminal proceeds.”

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.